March was a significant month for UK drivers with three significant changes to the law coming into effect.
Tougher punishments for drivers who talk or text on their mobiles while behind the wheel are now in force, while a similar crackdown on the use of any ‘internet device’ – phones, tablets and laptops – has also taken effect.
Meanwhile, the government has introduced new rules surrounding the use of child car seats, limiting the use of backless booster seats for older children.
So what do you need to know?
Until this month, motorists caught using their mobiles while driving faced a £100 fine and three points on their licence – but now both punishments have been doubled to £200 and six points.
On top of that, drivers will no longer be given the opportunity to complete a National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme course as an alternative to receiving points.
Finally, those who have passed their tests within the past two years now also run the risk of having their licence revoked upon their first offence if found guilty of using a phone while driving.
Department for Transport figures show that a driver being impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were fatal and 84 classed as serious.
The new legislation also encompasses any electronic device able to access the internet – a change introduced following an increase in the number of drivers caught texting, using social media apps like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram and even live-streaming while on the road.
The penalties are the same as those for using your phone while driving.
What are the new rules on child seats?
The law now states that the use of cushion booster seats will now be restricted to older children.
Any child under 125cm (4.1 feet) tall and less than 22kg (3.5 stone) in weight must use a child seat with a back instead of a backless booster cushion. Children must continue to use an appropriate child seat until they are either 135cm (4.4 feet) tall or 12 years old.
A backless booster seat is cheap to buy – about £6 to £30 – but experts don’t recommend them. High-backed child car seats are more expensive but they have been found to be safer.
Anyone caught not using an appropriate child seat for their car will be hit with a £100 fine – however the new law only applies to seats which are bought after 1 March 2017.
How can our criminal law lawyers help you?
If you need advice on any matter relating to a driving offence or Criminal Law, our lawyers can help.
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